How do we define stewardship?
Bishop Hougland identified collective and individual spiritual growth as a top priority for his ministry. He addressed it in each of the the first two years of his diocesan-wide workshops.. His charge to the EDWM Stewardship Committee is to assist parishes to grow into a greater appreciation of what stewardship means.
What is stewardship?
The task is changing our understanding of stewardship from the short term pledge drive intended to raise money for the coming year's operating budget to a year round lifestyle response to the innumerable blessings we receive from God. To be sure, fund- raising and budget concerns are still important, but it is only one of many parts of stewardship. Care for God's creation in the form of our planet, caring for those less fortunate, inviting others to join us (evangelizing), and feeding the hungry are examples.
A resource the committee has discussed is the following book:
Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving at Your Church by Scott McKenzie and Kristine Miller
Some suggestions from "Bounty:"
God: Invite God into the mix: stewardship is not about what we want people to give, but what God wants his people to give.
Gratitude: Demonstrate and practice congregational gratitude. Instead of doing follow-up calls to people who didn't make a pledge, what about making gratitude calls to those who did?
Stewardship begins with Gratitude and then requires an invitation to a deeper life of prayer and openness to the Spirit of God. Ask, “God, what would you have me do?”
Prayer: If gratitude reminds us of our blessings and their ultimate source, prayer is our willingness to allow those resources to be used by God. It's easy to believe that good fortune is of our own doing rather than a result of God's blessings.
Faith: Bountiful, generous giving will occur only when pastors and leaders are willing to model what it means to live and give in faith. On a monthly basis, ask individuals who have stepped out in faith to offer a testimony as to how it has changed their lives in little or big ways. Don't limit this witness to financial giving, but don't exclude financial giving, either.
Eliminate Secrecy: By talking about money and speaking clearly about its control of our lives, we can begin to put things back into perspective. In society today, we often define success by what we own rather than by who we are. Jesus urged people to become less attached to their stuff and more attached to God.
Make Stewardship Year-Round: Don't limit stewardship to the fall season. Some churches choose to focus on one particular area of stewardship per month. For example, January is environmental stewardship, February is stewardship of relationships, March is stewardship of the body, and so on.